Kilobot Collective Behaviours, Programmable Swarms Learn New Tricks…

The boffins at SSR Labs Harvard (Self-Organizing Systems Research) have continued the development of their swarm robot the Kilobot, capturing the swarms latest tricks in the new Kilobot Collective Behavior video. Designed to be so cheap that thousands of robots could be deployed in experiments the little Kilobot is now becoming a favourite amongst enthusiasts and educators.

Presented for your viewing pleasure are the latest incredible swarm videos featuring the Kilobots in action. Luckily the Kilobot swarm is defeated by carpet and uneven surfaces so world domination is not yet a possibility. Sit back relax and enjoy the strangely familiar antics of Kilobots.

The Kilobots were designed a number of years ago to allow software engineers to hone their programming skills and code, especially when working with large numbers of autonomous robots. Designed to be cheap each Kilobot only has $15 worth of parts in it.

highpants-kilobots-new-tricks2The bots may be cheap on parts but they are very cleverly designed. Their only means of communication and control is through the infrared sensor and LED both of which are mounted on the bots underside. The sensor picks up light reflected off the hard surface under the bot while the LED light bounces out messages in the same way. Control of the swarm is done via the Kilomote, a PC connected Infrared light that sits above the test area and sends out signals to the entire swarm, signalling them to switch on or off and allowing software updates to be sent.

With no wheels to roll on or traditional legs to walk with the Kilobots take a very different approach to locomotion, they shake. Each bot has two vibrators capable of making it rotate left, right or move forward; just like a mobile phone vibrating across a coffee table. It turns out the simplest way to get around is to just vibrate.

The SSR Labs team that developed the Kilobots wants everyone to get involved and has made them available to the other educational institutes, see the K-Team website for more details. A must have for anyone interested in robots or world domination, and strangely hypnotic to watch.

Reference: SSR Labs
Reference: K-Team

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